News Release

Study suggests tai chi can mirror healthy benefits of conventional exercise

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences



A new study shows that tai chi mirrors the beneficial effects of conventional exercise by reducing waist circumference in middle-aged and older adults with central obesity. The study was done by investigators at the University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Chinese Academy of Sciences; and UCLA.


Central obesity is a major manifestation of metabolic syndrome, broadly defined as a cluster of cardiometabolic risk factors, including central obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) level, and high blood pressure, that all increase risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


543 participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to a control group with no exercise intervention (n= 181), conventional exercise consisting of aerobic exercise and strength training (EX group) (n= 181), and a tai chi group (TC group) (n= 181). Interventions lasted 12 weeks.

The primary outcome was waist circumference. Secondary outcomes were body weight; body mass index; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglyceride, and fasting plasma glucose levels.


The findings suggest that tai chi is an effective approach for management of central obesity. This study has great translational significance because our findings support the notion of incorporating tai chi into global physical activity guidelines for middle-aged and older adults with central obesity.



Parco M. Siu, PhD; Angus P. Yu, MPhil; Edwin C. Chin, BScEd; Doris S. Yu, PhD; Daniel Y. Fong, PhD (University of Hong Kong); Stanley S. Hui, EdD; Jean Woo, MD (The Chinese University of Hong Kong,); Gao X. Wei, PhD (Chinese Academy of Sciences); and Michael R. Irwin, MD (University of California, Los Angeles).


Annals of Internal Medicine Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M20-7014


The Health and Medical Research Fund (12131841) of the Food and Health Bureau, Hong Kong SAR.

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